What happens when Windows 8 or 8.1 shows the following arcane message whenever you try to connect to your wireless network:
This connection has limited or no connectivity. No internet access
Or maybe you’ve seen this laconic message:
The connection is limited
By the way, yes my Wi-Fi network is actually called friedchicken and yes I am African American but - no - all African Americans don’t like Fried Chicken but I sure do!
The limited connectivity issue is a vexing problem partially because the error is so freggin’ nebulous and also because you can easily waste an entire day trying to fix it. What’s even more confounding is that sometimes you’ll see this error even though you have five bars of signal strength (just like me in the above graphic)
Usually most people try disconnecting and reconnecting and a few audacious neophytes try uninstalling the network adapter.
You actually don’t need to go to such bold lengths…
Here are four tricks that will almost certainly fix this problem:
- Reset the TCP/IP stack
- Disable Wi-Fi adapter napping
- Enabling Metered Connection Downloads
- Reset TCP/IP Autotuning
1. Use netsh.exe
There are a few things you can do to fix this problem but the easiest and most common solution is to use netsh to reset the TCP/IP stack to its default configuration.
The NetShell utility (netsh.exe) is a highly versatile tool that lets power users manage a myriad of computer processes right from the command line. Here’s how to put the tool to work for you:
Press the Windows Key + x + a to launch the Command Prompt with administrator rights.
Now in the black window type the following command:
netsh int ip reset C:\resetlog.txt
Then reboot the computer and retry the internet connection. It should connect fine now.
2. Wake up your Wi-Fi Adapter
If this only temporarily absolves the issue then the network adapter might be going into a sleep mode to conserve energy.
Press Windows Key + w to bring up the Settings search box and type:
network and sharing center
Click on the name of your Wi-Fi network and choose the Properties button in the lower left corner under.
In the Wi-Fi Properties window click the Configure button.
Then pick the last tab called Power Management and you’ll see this option:
Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.
Uncheck it, click OK and then login to your computer again to confirm the fix.
3. Enable Download over metered connections
If you’re iPhone, Blackberry or Galaxy S4 as a mobile hotspot, turning on Download over metered connections might just do the trick.
Press the Windows Key + w and type
When the Devices screen flips onto the screen, toggle the knob to On then logout and login to your computer to apply the change.
Keep in mind you should try this even if you know for sure that you aren’t using a metered connection. I know that sounds inane but for some reason turning this on fixes the problem.
4. Reset TCP/IP Autotunning
No no no, I’m not talking about the audio processor created by Antares that hip hop producers use to make musical artists sound like musical robots. That’s auto tune. Autotunning, as it applies to networks, refers to modifying the congestion buffers to allow reliable connectivity.
If you’ve tried all three of the tips above but the [sic] internets [/sic] is still down then check out fjam’s deft post on tipsandtricksforum.com.
Using the following three netsh commands in Windows 8 and 8.1 might fix the issue. I haven’t corroborated the result so I don’t know if it works but it’s certainly worth a shot:
netsh int tcp set heuristics disabled
netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled
netsh int tcp set global rss=enabled
Let me explain what all this does:
The first netsh command disables the scaling window in TCP after the second re-transmission of a SYN packet. The details are kind of abstruse so I’ll spare them but the bottom line is that sometimes Windows seems to arbitrarily change the way the TCP buffers are sized.
Executing the above netsh commands changes the TCP Window size to 65,535 and enforces the change which precludes Windows 8 from flubbing with it again.
Lenovo Yogo users should use the sets above with caution. At least one user (See Austin in the comments below) discovered using netsh.exe crashed rtwlanu.exe.
One of my readers, Erik, had this issue on his Dell Venue 11i Pro. He couldn’t connect to Wi-fi on battery power. He ended up fixing it by changing the power options for the Wifi card from high energy savings to low.
The Bottom Line
Whenever your Wi-Fi network shows limited access try the simple stuff first like rebooting or reconnecting. If that doesn’t work, reset the TCP/IP stack, wake up your Wi-Fi adapter, enabling metering and reset autotunning. That should get you back online!
Have you had success using the techniques I enumerated in this article? Please let me know in the comments! I’m curious which one worked for ya.